This challenging 10 mile route takes us over some of the hardest terrain Dartmoor has to offer including Dartmoors very first (and most remote) letterbox, the famous Cranmere Pool.
It takes you through 11 squares from John Haywoods Dartmoor 365 map – C9, D7,8 & 9, E7,8 & 9, F8 &9,and G8 & 9.
This part of the moor is remote and very marshy, be careful to prepare for some very wet conditions, and always take a map and compass.
This walk was not one of our favourites, as such, but an accomplishment that is one of the main challenges on Dartmoor for hikers. Locating Cranmere Pool. We did try once before from the Mary Tavy area, but we got as far as Fur Tor and opted for that instead.
Today, however, we were heading that way, and then beyond, to wild camp deep in the moor.
The weather was on the brink of changing for the worst. Dark clouds hovered threateningly over us, and would soon unload on us for the majority of the journey.
1.Starting at a popular entry point of ours, at the roadside carpark near East Okement Farm, we headed south along the dirt track, until we were beneath East Mill Tor on our right-hand side.
We headed up to the summit of this tor, where on a clear day there are impressive views of the highest area of Dartmoor, including Yes Tor and High Willhays. Today, however, the weather was not on our side. This is where the rain began.
2. We then made our way down the western banks of the tor, until we reached the dirt track below, which runs parallel to the track we left earlier. Head south down this track for about 2km until you reach Okement Hill.
3. The road branches off here, so stick to the right-hand track and another 700m’s you reach another branch this time head off to the left. You will need to keep your eyes peeled for this as it was not an obvious track. It has grown over but has left an impression in the landscape.
At the end of this branch off of the main track the road fizzled out to nothing and left stood at a small pool at Ockerton Court. From here it’s into the featureless marsh.
This is where the real adventure starts.
4. Taking a bearing is essential. The land here is featureless, and Cranmere Pool is nigh on invisible from every direction. So make sure that if you are following our footsteps, that you get an idea of which direction you are heading first, you don’t want to be getting lost in the following terrain.
We head now into some very unforgiving marshland that takes every inch of our strength, plus both hiking poles and a lot of perseverance and willing to keep going. This is an extremely wet area, the ground like jelly beneath our feet from time to time.
We hop and vault from one solid (hopefully) tuft of grass, over to another solid (hopefully) tusk, trying to keep on track of the baring. Every now and again, we are led along a lengthy winding path of clod-hopping only to find that we can go now more, and are forced to reverse and try to find an alternative route.
Surprisingly, after about 1km of pole vaulting our way across the marshes, Nath landed us right on top of the letterbox at Cranmere Pool. We stopped and took in the …. well, the boggy depression.
It was a bit of a letdown, especially after such a hard work out, hopping over that terrain with 18kgs on our backs. Our moods were sour, our resolve being beaten. After a slight pick me up as we stamped our maps with the Cranmere pool stamp, signed the book, and had our lunch, it was time to set off once again.
5. We decided to head West, across to Great Knee Set. Our initial plan had been to keep heading South and find Little Kneeset, but the morning had put us off somewhat.
Great Knee Set was another unimpressive tor, at least in our defeated frame of mind that is. We joked that the ‘Great’ was probably meant to be sarcastic.
6. From here, we headed north-west down into the valley, across the Brim Brook and up Kneeset nose until we reached Lints Tor. This was a quirky little Tor, with a shelf like shelter which we chose as base camp to enjoy our mid-afternoon snack.
7. From Lints Tor we headed directly North East towards Dinger Tor, which proved to be another rash decision as we staggered down an extremely steep, tussocky hillside, where I twisted my knee. We have sinced realised that there’s a track between these two tors, following the ridge line, that avoids this severe valley.
By the time we reached Dinger Tor, I was in agony, and couldn’t even find it in me to climb the granite rocks. We had also decided that we were not going to bother camping, either.
We followed the dirt track road which led off of the tor to the north, where the final stint of the journey weaved in and around the moorland for about 3-4km. Before we finally reached the vehichle.
Dartmoor had beaten us today, but we were both glad, in our heart of hearts, that we never have to return to Cranmere Pool again. Ever!…